In August, Kathy Duval shared her new picture book, Take Me To Your BBQ, illustrated by Adam McCauley (Hyperion, 2013) with the storytime crowd at BookPeople in Austin. From the promotional copy:
Aliens have landed on Willy’s farm, and they’re not leaving without a square dance and a square meal.
So fire up that grill, pour on the barbecue sauce, and snatch up that fiddle.
Adam McCauley’s out-of-this-world illustrations match Kathy Duval’s hoedown rhymes like ribs and taters!
Get ready for some extraterrestrial, lip-smackin’ fun.
Kathy's event was one of the best I've seen for presenting to young families and other children's literature enthusiasts in a bookstore setting. It featured an interactive read-aloud, an original song, an easy-to-execute craft project, a Q&A and a signing.
Kathy began by greeting new arrivals. Note: if you are a local author/illustrator, try to arrive at a bookstore event 15-to-20 minutes early. It's reassuring to a traveling author--even a popular one--that the audience is coming together, and, if need be, you can be available for any last minute, out-of-the-box support. (In the past, I've made last-minute runs to fetch napkins, pens, and aspirin.)
|Austin authors Greg Leitich Smith, Cynthia Levinson, Susie Kralovansky, Cynthia Leitich Smith & Kathy|
|Cynthia and Susie chat informally with Kathy|
|YA author Cory Putnam Oakes visits with Kathy|
|Kathy leads an interactive tie-in song & reading of the book.|
|Kathy models a tin-foil hat--which ties into the story. Note: that's Kathy's husband/wing man in the background, beaming.|
|Readers make tin-foil hats of their own.|
|Soon everyone is modeling a tin-foil hat!|
|Hooray! Kathy signs my book.|
What made the event so successful?
Local authors Donna Bowman Bratton & Lindsey Lane
- The book itself is fun, funny, and kid friendly.
- Bookpeople is an inherently great destination for children's literature enthusiasts.
- The event capitalized on a pre-existing crowd (the storytime regulars) at the bookstore.
- Kathy was a relaxed and entertaining speaker who offered original content (in the form of the tie-in song) and stories behind the story.
- The song and read-aloud were interactive, so young readers were fully engaged.
- The presentation was kept short and upbeat.
- The presentation segued into a craft that was easy-to-execute, fun, and a conversation starter. It also was inexpensive and readily portable for the author.
- Kathy brought a wing man--her husband--who took photos and offered both logistical and emotional support. Family and friends can be great for this role; just make sure you choose low-maintenance, reliable people who bring lots of positive energy.
- Kathy is a charmer.